Good cluck: Backyard chicken laws being reviewed by Truckee, Placer County
TRUCKEE/TAHOE, Calif. and#8212; Fans of backyard chickens may be getting their way, with recent support from two area planning commissions.
In May, the Truckee Planning Commission asked staff to explore zoning to allow people to keep chickens in their backyards, after advocates touted the benefits of home-grown eggs. The Placer County Planning Department made a similar request of staff in April.
Currently in Truckee, according to zoning laws, backyard chickens aren’t allowed in single-family or multi-family residential areas and#8212; only on large rural plots over five acres in size, said Truckee Community Development Director John McLaughlin.
That leaves out the majority of neighborhoods, like Tahoe Donner, Glenshire, Sierra Meadows and Prosser Lake View, he said.
McLaughlin said the idea first came about when Truckee resident Dan Warren approached the town on the issue.
and#8220;I originally got the idea when I started reading about healthy eggs,and#8221; Warren said. and#8220;Just because something says free range doesn’t mean it’s free range, and just because something says it’s organic, doesn’t mean it’s organic.and#8221;
McLaughlin said others have echoed that support, touting benefits of sustainability, health and creating a connection between food and where it comes from.
At the May 12 planning commission meeting, McLaughlin said about 20 people came in support of allowing backyard chickens, and no one spoke against.
In talking to people in the community, McLaughlin said he’s heard some concerns about things like smell.
However, Warren said chickens make less of a stink then other pet, like dogs.
Placer County’s commission asked staff to work up language allowing six hens on lots of 5,000 square feet and up, and eliminates the need for a permit, said Paul Thompson, deputy director of planning for the county.
He said the commission has seen similar interest from residents, and have seen backyard chicken allowances become a growing trend in other communities.
and#8220;People want to become more self-sustaining,and#8221; Thompson said.
Still a basin issue
Placer County’s progress won’t mean the end of red tape in the way of backyard chickens in the Tahoe Basin, however.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency doesn’t allow any chickens on lots less than two acres, said Dennis Oliver, spokesman for the agency.
and#8220;The original intent was to discourage commercial livestock farms in residential areas,and#8221; Oliver said. and#8220;But because of the sustainable movement to grow your own eggs and have gardens more and more people are wanting this, I don’t think 20-plus years ago anyone envisioned or anticipated this when the code was written.and#8221;
He said the agency did look at ways to get around the regulation, but it appears to require an act of the governing board to change.
and#8220;It’s not one of the TRPA’s top priorities,and#8221; Oliver said. and#8220;But we’re looking for solutions; we’re going to have to fix this.and#8221;
McLaughlin said with the planning commission’s direction, staff will prepare amendments to the development code, which would allow up to six chickens on lots larger than 10,000 square feet, and proportionately smaller numbers on smaller lots.
Minimum setbacks from neighboring properties will also be set.
and#8220;We’ll come back to the planning commission in July, then if they approve go to the town council in August, and if they approve, it will be effective 30 days after that, so we’re looking at early fall,and#8221; McLaughlin said of when backyard chickens could be allowed.
The Placer County Planning Commission will make a formal recommendation to the board of supervisors, which will make the formal decision at yet-to-be determined date, Thompson said.
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